Energy in the World

Energy is something that makes things move and essentially live. When it comes to the food we eat, there is a lot more than what people think goes into the overall production, transportation, and eating of the food that is consumed. It goes from the field to the stomach and the process that goes into it is one that is extensive and can be complicated from all the transporting that it goes through. An example that was brought up from Chad Heeter’s article is eating oatmeal for breakfast. He talks about how he taking a moment to consider everything that goes into play when it comes to just his simple bowl of oatmeal.

But before I put spoon to cereal, what if I consider this bowl of oatmeal porridge (to which I’ve just added a little butter, milk and a shake of salt) from a different perspective. Say, a Saudi Arabian one.Then what you’d be likely to see — what’s really there, just hidden from our view (not to say our taste buds) — is about 4 ounces of crude oil. Throw in those luscious red raspberries and that cup of java (an additional 3 ounces of crude), and don’t forget those modest additions of butter, milk and salt (1 more ounce), and you’ve got a tiny bit of the Middle East right here in my kitchen.

With him writing this and people reading it, all I can think of is someone eating their morning breakfast and drinking their coffee reading this and actually taking that moment to reflect on where their food would be coming from. Its honestly hard to tell what people think when they are just waking up they probably just think it comes form China like everything else we have in America. But then go back to their daily routine of driving to work or taking public transportation to get there depending on where they live. The energy used to fuel these is probably not used by biofuels but who knows where different larger cities have gone as far as these types of advancements.

That leads into a different type of energy that everyone seems to know the most about. This type of energy is dealing with different types of fuels that are used in order for vehicles and other machines function and move. Most places utilize fuels like oil and gas because of the availability and price in which it comes at in gallons compared to other forms of fuel. The other form of fuel that David Tilman and Jason Hill wrote about in the Washington Post is regarding biofuels. A century ago our first transportation biofuels — the hay and oats fed to our horses — were replaced by gasoline. Today, ethanol from corn and biodiesel from soybeans have begun edging out gasoline and diesel. They brought this up because of all of the environmental benefits that follow them and the energy that is saved that comes from plants that ship the oil from Middle Eastern countries to different parts of the US. Compared to biofuels that can be created in the same area that it is going to be used later on. Whether converted into electricity, ethanol or synthetic gasoline, the high-diversity hay from infertile land produced as much or more new usable energy per acre as corn for ethanol on fertile land. And it could be harvested year after year.

Overall the amount of energy that goes into everything to make things move in tremendous. It is almost scary to think about what this world would be like if we did not have these forms of energy that is utilized then where would we be. So maybe take a moment the next time you take a bite out of your food and reflect on where that food is coming from and how it got there.


Read pp. 142-155 of Deep Economy chapter 4, “The Wealth of Communities”


One comment

  1. rogerwleblanc · May 2, 2016

    Josh, thanks for your post. I loved reading that oatmeal article. I am glad it made a lasting impression on you as it did for me.


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